I came across this poem, “Letting Go”, by my sister Christine Ruth Wiebe. It’s a Christmas poem and I know it’s after the holidays now, but reading the poem triggered some memories I want to share, and I want to share the poem, too. It’s just a week after I published my book, BIRTH MOTHER. Now that so many people are reading my book, I am starting to getting used to the idea of other people knowing the intimate details of that earlier time in my life. I just wish so much that I would have had the courage to share the story earlier. With my sister Christine, for example, and my other sister, my brother and my mother. Why did I hide my thoughts and feelings from them about this part of my life? It was not until my second child’s thirteenth birthday that I told him about his brother — lost to us, out there somewhere in the world. Why didn’t I talk with my friends — my first husband — anyone? Why did I lock my story up inside for decades?
Keeping a secret from your dearest ones cripples intimacy, and consumes enormous amounts of personal energy.
Christine passed away in 2000 without ever hearing more than the bare outlines of my experience, and the rest of the family also knew very little. I am very happy, though, that she and the son I gave up for adoption had the chance to get to know one another, because he found me in 1996, when he was 27 years old.
And I am thankful that when my son found me, my heart had been opened and prepared for the reunion. This was thanks to the imagination, vision and encouragement of a special naturopathic doctor and two psychotherapists, retreats at Kripalu Retreat Center and Shalom Retreat Center, intensive journaling, yoga, and my husband’s love.
So here’s Christine’s poem:
This is how it should be:
Christmas vacation, and I am six;
Daddy and I are driving outside the city
to a great hill with untouched snow.
Sun warms the car.
I climb up the tracks Daddy makes
hearing the crunch each time the first time.
We stand at the top, just Daddy and I, breathing,
and the sparrows laugh.
“I’m afraid,” I say.
But then we’re sailing
and I’m safe on a narrow strip of wood
clinging to his broad back,
a solid thing in a swaying world,
and I’m laughing and wishing
we could fall like this forever
into the sun sparkles and whipping wind
and the white snowdrift
waiting to embrace us
over and over and over.
– Christine Wiebe
September 19, 1985